Comfort Care

Comfort care is medical care for people with serious and long-term illnesses such as cancer, heart failure, or Parkinson’s disease. The goal is not to cure the disease, but to focus on quality of life and managing symptoms such as pain, tiredness, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting. Comfort care programs can also help with mental health and spiritual needs. It helps provide relief from the stress of a serious illness. Another name for this type of care is palliative care.

Comfort care may include treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery to give some relief from symptoms and improve your quality of life. Comfort care can be given in a wide range of places, such as a doctors’ office, clinic, long-term care facility, home, or hospital.

People who provide comfort care get special training and may be certified in palliative care. Specialists who provide comfort care may include:

  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Mental health counselors
  • Social workers
  • Pastoral counselors
  • Dieticians
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Music and art therapists
  • Specially trained volunteers

You can choose comfort care at any stage in a serious illness.

Some people want to start comfort care when they are first diagnosed. Some wait until comfort, support, and quality of life issues are major concerns. If you have been diagnosed with a serious illness, talk with your provider and your family about whether comfort care is right for you.

Comfort care is different from hospice care. While hospices provide palliative care, their programs are designed for those who may have 6 months or less to live.

You can get more information about comfort care from:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-05-01
Last reviewed: 2014-04-06
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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